In Ba’s first club rugby competition since 2019, Nailaga overcame a gallant Navala with a last-ditch penalty goal to triumph 13-10 in the Cup at the Market Grounds on Saturday and round off a pulsating day of grassroots rugby.
Vadravadra had earlier edged Vatutavui 16-13 to win the Plate, whilst in the battle of the highland villages, Bukuya defeated Koroboya 12-0 for the Bowl in front of a bumper crowd of nearly 3,000 spectators in what has been regarded as the rebirth of Ba Rugby.
Underdogs Navala showed they were well up to the task and dominated much of the play. But early in the second half, with an overlap beckoning on the Nailaga 22, a stray pass meant Nailaga could scoop up the loose ball and gallop away for a seven-pointer.
Crucially, Navala also gave up two opportunities to take three points when on offer, and in such a tight, hotly-contested match, every point is so valuable.
“I’m exhausted,” exclaimed Ba head coach Vilimoni Delasau, who has led the province to greener pastures this season after 26 years as a minor union. “Today, we saw club rugby at its finest – tough, honest rugby where no side took a backward step. This provides the platform for the Skipper Cup next year.”
“We will play in the Vanua Challenge against Lautoka next Saturday, and then kick off our new Tikina Championships in October. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Ba Club Rugby results:
Nailaga 13-10 Navala
Vatutavui 13-16 Vadravadra
Bukuya 12-0 Koroboya